Recent HSE News And Prosecutions – March 2014

Each month, we bring you a round-up of the latest news from the HSE Mythbusters panel, who rule on cases where health and safety has been incorrectly cited as a reason for implementing a rule or procedure - or simply for poor customer service. We also bring you HSE prosecution news.
 
Shoes must be sold with a box
 
A Belfast man bought a pair of shoes from a shop and opted to forgo using the shoe box offered by the shop’s assistant. The assistant insisted the man take the shoe box, declaring that health and safety law requires all customers to use a box. The Belfast man was not convinced, and felt that the shop probably wanted to get rid of their boxes to reduce excess waste. Although the HSE’s Myth Busters Panel was unclear about the shop’s motives for forcing a box on the customer, it is certain that there are no health and safety regulations demanding customers use a box for their shoes—this is simply bad customer service masquerading as health and safety concerns.
 
Refusal to inflate balloon
 
A Cardiff woman purchased a helium balloon in a card shop and asked if she could pay for the shopkeeper to inflate a different balloon she bought online. The shopkeeper refused, citing health and safety rules that prohibited him from filling balloons not purchased in the shop. The HSE panel decided that the ban on filling outside balloons stemmed from purely commercial concerns rather than ‘health and safety rules’.
 
Firm fined for printing accident
 
A Hengoed-based food packaging company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,843 in costs after a 55-year-old employee’s left hand was crushed between the rollers of a printing machine. The HSE’s investigation concluded that the printing machine was unguarded, allowing workers to get too close to dangerous moving parts. Worse, the company had been aware for almost 18 months prior to the incident that a safe isolation procedure was needed for that machine, but neglected to implement one.